Matagi is name of traditional hunters originated in Akita. Their history can be traced for more than 1000years. They do not hunt commercially and unlimitedly. They respect the nature of mountains. They go through a ceremony to pray before entering mountains. They also send their gratitude to the god of mountain when they come back from mountains safely.
Matagi go hunting not only in warm seasons but also during snowy winter to look for animals like rabbits. This time I had a privilege to follow them in the mountain. There are usually no one else in the mountain when Matagi go there to hunt. Massive amount of snow covers the mountain that people cannot do anything if they just go there with normal gears.
Matagi use “Kanjiki” to walk on the snowy mountain. It is a handmade snow shoes made by straws and ropes. They wear in on top of their snow shoes or trekking shoes. Kanjiki winden the size of shoes that stop their feet to stuck in snow. It is a simple gear but surprisingly works well to walk in the snow.
We saw some steps of animals while walking roads which no one else walked. Matagi predicted where rabbits are by looking at their foot prints like “This is rabbits. They stopped here once and went to that way.”
They also showed me a sign of a bear by pointing a tree. Many leaves were left in one part of the tree. They said that is a place where bears climb and took at rest in autumn. There are still plenty of leaves in autumn that I don’t think I can find bears in that height.
I struggled to walk on the snow at the beginning, but then it became fun to do as I get used to walking. There was nothing artificial in the mountain. Quiet nature of the mountain made me calm. I understood a little of what is like to be away from daily life and enjoy great nature. (From Taiwan)